Scot who hoped to cross the Atlantic Ocean in homemade boat rescued

Duncan Hutchison poses alongside Eric Thornton, a member of the US Coast Guard, who helped rescue him off the coast of New Jersey. Picture: US Coastguard
Duncan Hutchison poses alongside Eric Thornton, a member of the US Coast Guard, who helped rescue him off the coast of New Jersey. Picture: US Coastguard
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An amateur rower from the Highlands who hoped to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a homemade wooden boat has been rescued by the US Coast Guard just five days into his epic adventure.

Duncan Hutchinson, from Lochinver, spent three years building the boat and set off from New York last Thursday with the aim of rowing all the way back to Scotland.

However, stormy weather and high winds prevented the 52-year-old from reaching the Gulf Stream, and he was forced to abandon the crossing just 20 miles off the eastern seaboard of the US.

A rescue boat picked up Mr Hutchison off Barnegat Light in New Jersey late on Monday evening after he raised a distress call in 21mph winds and waves some eight-and-a-half feet high.

The Scot, who arrived back on US soil safe, albeit without any money, passport, or clean clothes, has vowed to continue his 3,400 mile transatlantic voyage once the weather becomes more favourable.

In the first instance, however, the father-of-three has appealed for help in finding his boat, named Sleipner, after an eight-legged horse from Norse mythology capable of gliding the sea.

Mr Hutchison’s vessel was less fortunate than its inspiration. Having been washed ashore, the currents carried it back out to sea, where it is unaccounted for, along with all his belongings.

In a post on his Facebook page, Duncanadrift, Mr Hutchison explained: “Coastguards went to retrieve boat and it had drifted out of there [sic] area so my only hope now to get back on course is for the next coastguard down coast to hopefully get a sighting so I can start again.

“The wind had changed going away from coast now so not looking good if I dont get it soon. If anyone can or know anyone who might be able to influence finding boat would be great.”

In the meantime, Mr Hutchison has been offered accommodation by the owners of The Sand Castle a New Jersey bed and breakfast, and is using their iPad to post updates about his eventful journey, which has raised more than £7,200 for WaterAid to date.

Mr Hutchison expected it would take him between 90 to 100 days to row from New York to Lochinver.

Before setting off, he said he expected the loneliness of being at sea on his own would be the hardest part of the adventure.

Another Scot, Niall Iain Macdonald, is making a separate bid to row from the US to Scotland.

Mr Macdonald, who is making his third attempt in four years at completing the feat, set out from Virginia and is aiming for Stornoway in Lewis. He is still off the US coast.